The purpose of this Handbook is to provide NHRIs with tools and guidance on how to integrate reproductive rights into their work. Each NHRI is as unique as the country in which it has been established but that does not mean that many of the challenges, including within the field of reproductive rights, are not the same or similar for many NHRIs. This Handbook is intended to give an introduction to reproductive rights, both what they mean in practice and their normative background, and how NHRIs can work within this field. Naturally, many NHRIs already work within the reproductive rights field, and a number of experiences from NHRIs have been gathered and are mentioned in the Handbook.
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What young people want, what young people need
1. Introduction to the manual
Are you developing and implementing sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes for young people? Do you want guidance to review your programmes in line with a rights-based and gender-transformative approach and identify areas for improvement? Do you seek support to meaningfully involve young people in your programmes?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, this Essential Packages Manual could be very helpful for you.
The Essential Packages Manual is a comprehensive guide for successful sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes for young people. It is a starting point for managers, programme officers, monitoring and evaluation staff and others to critically review their programmes against proven standards of good practice, to identify gaps and areas where they could improve to better serve young people, and to learn more about a holistic approach to programming that places young people at the centre. Those working in one programmatic area may wish to learn a little more about another area, and this Manual provides an introduction to a range of interventions across programmatic areas.
As a broad, over-arching guide, the Essential Packages Manual does not provide detailed, step-by-step guidance on how to improve programming. Further resources are identified throughout the manual for those who wish to delve further into particular areas, and for those who seek more specific, detailed guidance on programme design, implementation and evaluation. A full list of recommended resources can be found at the end of the document.
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According to the United Nations (UN) projections, the world’s population will reach 10 billion by 2055 and more than 95% of this growth will happen in low and middle – income countries. Of the 2.45 billion people expected to be added to the global population between 2017 and 2055, more than 1.4 billion (57%) will be added in Africa. Decades of very high fertility in Africa, coupled with rapidly declining child mortality have created a population age-structure dominated by young people under the age of 25. The demographics of the East African Community (EAC), particularly those of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, mirror those of Africa. Around 20% of the 127 million people in these four countries are between the ages of 15 and 24, and can be labelled as “youth” according to the United Nations definition. In the last population and housing censuses in the four countries conducted between 2009 and 2014, about 40% of the Rwandese population were children below the age of 15, and the corresponding percentages were 43% in Kenya, 45% in Tanzania, and 52% in Uganda. Such youthful population, if healthy, skilled, and gainfully employed, can be a catalyst for accelerated social and economic development. When the ratio of the working-age population to dependents increases, a window of opportunity opens for accelerated economic growth, a phenomenon called the demographic dividend (DD).
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